Coronavirus: SoCal restaurants waiting to fully reopen scramble to survive amid uncertainty

After Gov. Gavin Newsom released guidelines, Southern California restaurants are waiting for the day they can reopen.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Like many Southern California restaurant owners, Sidney Price is preparing for when she can offer more than takeout and delivery at Noble Bird Rotisserie in Long Beach.

The state has posted new guidelines for restaurants to follow as Gov. Gavin Newsom released the guidelines Tuesday for reopening restaurant dining rooms shut down nearly two months ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're really fortunate that many of these guidelines we were practicing before the shutdown," Price said.

So far, there is no concrete date when restaurant dining rooms in Southern California can reopen.

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Workers at Price's restaurant wear masks and gloves, and there are disposable menus and no shared condiments. Price says she's already ordered plexiglass to separate booths.

"We're still waiting to find out how tall does that plexiglass need to be," Price said. "We haven't seen any guidance on that at this point."

Price says she's still trying to figure out how to best handle taking temperatures of not just workers, but customers.

"This is a very scary time for anybody in the restaurant industry, learning how to completely revamp your business model to survive this," she said.

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"The reality is even if we're allowed to open next week, 50 to 75% of independent restaurants won't make it through this," said Jim Krohn, owner of Local Kitchen in Torrance.

He's been in the restaurant industry for 30 years and says many independent restaurants are already bogged down in unpaid bills.

"They have to pay 45 days of bills to have vendors bring their product so they can reopen," Krohn said. "They don't have the money to do that."

Add to it, physical distancing rules will mean fewer tables.

"Do I have concerns about keeping the restaurant afloat? Yes," Krohn said. "At 40% or 50% capacity, I'm pretty confident we can make it work."

Under the guidelines, dine-in restaurants should still encourage takeout or delivery when possible.
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